The decision by Green Tropics Limited to dig an extended trench to carry water from the Macal River to its proposed caneland fields further inland may have been unauthorized, but it is certainly not the great sin the Ministry has made it out to be.
If anything, the waterway will help wildlife in general, and the jaguar in particular. Forest animals need water, and the trench will make it easier for them to get to it. The jaguar will also benefit, because it will find it easier to find prey.
The argument that the trench will affect the jaguar adversely is completely specious. A man-made trench is no hurdle for this agile cat, which is also an accomplished swimmer. On the other hand the trench will bring a precious supply of water to new farmlands, and that is a good thing!
We hope that the Minister of Lands, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment will get together on this and quickly lift the ban which has prevented Green Tropics from proceeding with its irrigation plans.
Despite all the talk about encouraging development, we find the government still fragmented, with key ministries acting in isolation, without an appreciation of the holistic development picture. It is slow to move, but quick to re-act.
A development such as that proposed by Green Tropics Limited, which is planning to spend some $200 million during the next twelve months and whose operation will provide up to 400 new jobs, is every poor country’s dream. The investment will help to restore the Belize sugar industry to a position of productivity and affluence, and will have the added benefit of providing renewable electrical energy through a proposed co-generation plant.
If we follow the example of those countries who aggressively go after international development investments, we would be actively helping these people with their irrigation problem instead of standing in the way.
We happen to know that the Government of Belize is actively looking to see how it can improve exports. The efforts of the D.F.C. and of BELTRAIDE are focused on trying to wean the Belize business community away from being a community of merchants to becoming a community of producers for the export market. The Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have enthusiastically thrown their support behind programmes which improve Belize’s export potential.
Green Tropics Limited’s investment in the sugar industry is all about exports. Its success in Belize is crucial to our ability to attract other investors from Europe and Asia and other places where land for agriculture is scarce. .
A lot is riding on this! We would be well advised to do our best to make it work.